Occupational Safety and Health Data Collection and Injury Prevention Work Group

  • May 18, 2005: 9:30 AM
  • Bureau of Labor Standards, First Floor Training Room

Occupational Safety and Health Data Collection and Injury Prevention Work Group Meeting Minutes

Minutes:

Present: Bill Peabody, Chair (Maine Department of Labor), Gary Baxter (Maine Employers Mutual Insurance Company), Brian Doe (Hannaford), Peter Doran (Maine Occupational Research Agenda), Carol Grenier (sitting in for Stefanie LaRose, Cannon Cochran Management Services, Inc.), Jeff Levesque (Workers’ Compensation Board), Kim Lim (Maine Department of Labor), Al May (Bureau of Health), Steve Minkowsky (Workers’ Compensation Board), Louise Morang (Maine Association of Occupational Nurses), Pat Philbrook (Maine State Nurses Association), Dave Wacker (Maine Department of Labor), and Leslie Walleigh (Workplace Health).

Absent: Brad Brown (Maine Bureau of Insurance), Denise Dumont (US HealthWorks), Vanessa Santarelli (Maine Department of Labor), Saskia Janes (Maine Public Health Association), Stefanie LaRose (Canon Cochran Management Services, Inc.), John Rioux (Maine Department of Labor), and Ralph Tucker (McTeague-Higbee).

Staff: Ted Bradstreet (Maine Department of Labor) & Terry Hathaway (Maine Department of Labor)

Guest: Matt Holbrook (MEMIC)

Bill Peabody opened the meeting of the Occupational Safety and Health Data Collection and Injury Prevention Work Group at 9:39 A.M. Brief introductions were made.

Approval of April 20, 2005 Minutes. Peter Doran made a motion to accept the minutes of April 20, 2005. Gary Baxter, seconded. Minutes were unanimously approved.

Pilot Project on Medical Only’s with MEMIC – Steve Minkowsky. Steve handed out the “Initial Findings of Medical-Only First Reports”. Gary Baxter and Matt Holbrook explained the study. The dates of injury were from 1998 through 2003. Out of more than 17,000 indemnity cases, nearly 5,500 (30 percent) started out as Medical Only. Observations made include the following:

  • Over 40 percent of the injuries reflected soft tissue injuries, such as muscle strain, soreness and back pain and could be prevented through safety intervention programs.
  • Employee classification codes with high medical-only injuries can be identified to monitor trends and patterns.
  • The longer a medical-only injury continues, the more expensive any subsequent indemnity claim becomes.
  • Opportunities include:

    • Medical-only injuries can be tracked to identify potential lost-time injuries.
    • Change focus from the exclusive case management of indemnity cases to include an increased focus on medical-only cases.
    • The collection of medical-only injuries is significant in developing safety and injury prevention programs.

    MEMIC is already implementing the lessons learned from the collection of medical-only data to change their business practices.

    Recommendation:

    Based on the observations and opportunities described, further study of reporting of medical-only First Reports is merited. Use of this additional data could reduce the number of lost-time First Reports and the number of indemnity cases. This would then reduce the associated costs to the workers’ compensation system.

    Report to the Legislature – Bill Peabody. Bill handed out a copy of the report to the Legislature, “Report of the Occupational Safety and Health Data Collection and Injury Prevention Work Group to the 122nd Legislature, Joint Standing Committee on Labor” as well as an e-mail from Carol Grenier. Bill pointed out that he did include Ralph Tucker’s recommendations in the report. Medical-only’s could continue to be collected to encourage the Bureau to start looking at options for using and coding in its database. The focus is on recommendations. Mr. Peabody suggested that the recommendations could be for the group to continue studying the issue. After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that Bill incorporate the recommendations into the Legislative report and send it to the work group via e-mail.

    Bill suggested that medical-only’s should continue to be collected on a voluntary basis and that the Bureau of Labor Standards can look at options for using and coding in its database.

    Steve Minkowsky, along with Frank Richards and Jeff Levesque, will cooperate with MEMIC regarding medical-only’s for presentation in the report to the Labor Committee.

    Peter Doran suggested that Bill forward a copy of the report to the Legislature to MORA members as well as to the Labor Committee.

    Gary Baxter suggested that the work group be split into two groups; one to focus on data collection and one to focus on injury prevention (working with existing data to prevent injuries). There would be an opportunity for more data and to clean up existing data. Bill will let the members of the work group know about ideas and ask members how they want to be involved. These groups could add other interested parties not currently in the work group.

    Brian Doe suggested that the work group look at what can be done to overcome existing obstacles so that both groups can work from a foundation. He suggested that both groups could meet separately and then meet together.

    Peter Doran suggested the creation of a couple of task forces and they could meet and then bring information back to the work group.

    Bill then asked the work group if they wanted him to include this recommendation in the Report to the Legislature. The work group was in agreement.

    Dirigo. As Jeff Levesque was absent, Bill asked if the group supported the recommendation to continue to look at Dirigo. The group supports that recommendation.

    Other. Dave Wacker suggested that the work group increase by one representative from OSHA. Dave will contact Tony Lemire, Acting Area Director, OSHA.

    Next Meeting. The next meeting of the Occupational Safety and Health Data Collection and Injury Prevention Work Group will be held on Wednesday, June 15, 2005, 9:30 to 11:30 A.M., First Floor Training Room, Bureau of Labor Standards, Hallowell. The agenda will include the Legislative Report.

    Adjournment. Mr. Peabody adjourned the meeting at 11:12 A.M.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Terry M. Hathaway

    Recording Secretary